Winter is just about here and there’s nothing more refreshing than taking your horse for a ride while snow has piled up on the ground.However, you need to remember some safety rules to avoid possible injury to you and your horse in these icy conditions. Here are some preventative steps to take to ensure a safe and enjoyable winter ride for you and your horse.
Tip #1: Prepare your horse.
Before setting out for a ride, take some time to prepare your horse for the winter conditions. Horses naturally produce heavy coats during winter which provides them with warmth during the colder months. To prevent your horse from overheating during your riding session it is good practice to clip your horse’s coat prior to your winter ride. Another important area to protect is your horse’s hooves. A build-up of snow on your horse’s hooves could make it difficult for them to walk and could possibly cause them to slip or fall. Therefore it is advisable for your horse to wear footwear that will provide good traction in the snow. For those horses that are not worked much during the winter, it is not unusual for them to have no shoes at all.
Tip #2: Check your riding equipment.
The cold weather can also be damaging to tack and other equestrian equipment. The freezing and thawing elements associated with winter conditions can adversely affect your equipment as the presence of winter moisture can cause damage to leather and metal components. Before saddling up you should check your equipment if it is in good working condition and ongoing maintenance is recommended.
Tip#3: Put on an appropriate riding outfit.
Safe winter riding means wearing an appropriate outfit that will suit changes associated with winter weather conditions. It is recommended that you wear warm winter clothing that can be layered, and is waterproof. Your choice of accessories should include good durable gloves, winter riding boots and helmet and it is best to avoid wearing accessories such as long scarves that could possibly get caught in equipment or terrain and cause an accident.
Tip #4: Check on your horse’s health and condition
Is your horse up for a winter ride? Make sure your horse is in excellent condition before you take him riding during the winter season. It is important that you know how to gauge your horse’s physical condition before you take your horse on a winter ride.
Tip #5: Exercise your horse before heading out to the snow.
A good exercise regime during the winter months will ensure your horse will handle the harsher winter conditions better and allow a safe and enjoyable ride.
Tip #6: Choose a safe route for your trail ride this winter.
There’s no doubt that riding in the snow is a whole lot of fun providing you choose a safe trail. During the winter months it is advisable to select paths that are familiar and preferably well groomed to avoid the possibility of surprise hazards. Try to avoid icy puddles or ponds, which could crack under the weight of you and your horse when stood on. Be mindful of slippery terrain.
Tip #7: Allow your horse to cool down.
Even when it’s cold outside, you still need to allow your horse to cool down after a winter ride. Horses just like humans need to cool down after strenuous activity. It is even more important during cold weather to allow this process. An obvious sign that your horse needs to rest and cool down is flaring nostrils and heavy panting. When you notice this behaviour it time to let your horse rest and return to normal temperature.
With attention to preparation and observing good safety methods you can enjoy riding your horse during the winter season without any concerns of injury to you or your horse.
Article brought to you by Abler – offering affordable Equine Medication since 2008.